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SOCIAL    AND    POLITICAL    LIFE          l8l

gentleman there would be no one to rule the common people,
and without the common people there would be no one to
feed the gentleman." Once the King of Gh'i asked Confucius
about government, and on being told of the Doctrine of Social
Status, the King exclaimed, "Well said, sir! If the king is not
kingly, and the subjects do not fulfil their duties as subjects
. . . how can I be fed, though there be plenty of rice in the country?"
So between the sunshine from above and the sap of the earth
from below, the trees prosper. Some trees are more vigorous
than others and draw more sap from the earth, and people who
sit under their shade and admire their green leaves do not
know that it is the sap that does it.

The officials know it, however. Candidates for magistracy
sitting and awaiting their chances in Peking know by heart
and constant conversation which district is "fat" and which
district is "thin." They, too, with a literary flourish, speak of
the national revenue as "the people's fat and the people's
marrow." The process of extraction of human fat and human
marrow is a science comparable in diversity and ingenuity to
organic chemistry. A good chemist can convert beetroot into
sugar, and a really good one can draw nitrogen and make
fertilizer out of air. The Chinese officialdom have nothing to
lose by comparison.

The redeeming feature is the absence of caste or aristocracy
in China. The yamen class is not a permanent hereditary
institution, like tie landed aristocracy in Europe, and it is
impossible to identify it permanently with any group of in-
dividuals. There has been no family in China which can
boast that its ancestors have never worked for the last five
hundred years, like some aristocrats in France or the Habs-
burgs in Austria, except Confucius's family, which has not
worked for the last two thousand years. The descendants of the
Manchu army, which conquered China in 1644, may be truly
said not to have worked for the last three hundred years, and
now with the fall of the Manchu Dynasty they still refuse to
work—that is, most of them. They are a most interesting case
for socialists to study, as showing what can happen to a class
of people fed by the nation for three centuries, for they are the
true "leisure class" in China. But they are the exception.